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Online Course

HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

All-Time Top 100

Princeton University via edX

(100)
2.6k

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Overview

In this course, we look for answers to seemingly unsolvable queries: Why breathe? Why breed? Why bleed? What justifies continuing, creating, and killing lives? Seeking answers to these thorny questions, Princeton University and Tel Aviv University have joined hands to create a unique online course that delves into the depths of the human condition and its politics.



Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism (HOPE) is a journey into the human condition and its politics, turning to existentialism for guidance. The course explores, on both individual and political levels, the following themes: Human / nature, identity & authenticity, freedom, reflection, happiness, death & dread, meaning, morality & ethics, truth & trust, God & religion, alienation & love, and finally—hope.”

Most philosophers ask “what is the good life?” and answer "to feel good, or to be good, or to do good." Existentialism asks “what is life good for?” and traces the answers that people, in their lived experience, give—to foster our own.

HOPE is a richly interdisciplinary course anchored in political science and philosophy. It also draws on history, sociology, psychology, and economy—synthesizing theoretical insights with empirical findings, both vintage and novel. HOPE shows that science and art can create a wonderful synergy when studying—indeed foregrounding—our humanity.

HOPE employs novel technologies in ways that enhance—not drain—our humanity and our ability to turn from “power politics” to “purpose politics,” cultivating creative, courageous, civil choices—the gist of existential politics.

In HOPE, you will find:
  • Animated talks, interviews and student discussions
  • Exploration of key concepts and figures—thinkers, artists, and politicians—both ancient and modern
  • A host of fascinating questions to probe alone, and together, with friends and in class
  • Myriad multimedia features, including various forms of art (painting, prose and poetry, cinema, tv, and music)
  • An invitation to choose between several edifying projects, including a personal journal and a collective newspaper

HOPE has been created in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.

Taught by

Uriel Abulof

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Reviews for edX's HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism Based on 100 reviews

  • 5 stars 89%
  • 4 stars 8%
  • 3 stars 2%
  • 2 star 0%
  • 1 star 1%

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  • 1
Everaldo O
by Everaldo completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is a course with an innovative approach and a deep reflection. With a brilliant organization and exposition of topics, we are immersed in relevant issues of our time, analyzing concepts underlying our human existence. This course is a journey guided by history, where we find great names of human thought, as well as prominent names in the world political scenario. Due importance is, of course, given to the counter-current of existentialist thought which has reoriented philosophical reflection into lived experience, in contrast to rational idealism. This was, I would say, the part that was …
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Sorcha C
Sorcha is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This course is one of the richest and most thought-provoking courses I've taken. It combines philosophy, arts and politics to challenge our notions on a variety of topics ranging from identity, love, hope to alienation, death, god and many more. The underlying philosophy is existentialist, the politics are current, and the references to music, art and film certainly add interest and spark to the course.

One of my favorite things about this course is that it requires participation and interaction between the learners, something I often find lacking in other courses. Each topic req…
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
The structure of this course is innovative and very appealing, incorporating so much artwork and music videos. You could even say that the music videos are the foundation of the course.

It is quite a bit of work. Each lesson takes 2-3 hours.

The downside, and this is probably true for all online courses, is the lack of feedback. There is nothing to stop you submitting facile answers to the many discussion questions. You can read a lot of other responses (but I bet this is rarely done); otherwise, there is nothing to challenge you or make you think more deeply. I am also not sure whether I could now summarize the key ideas or articulate what I've learned.

Having said that, it is a hugely interesting topic, presented with verve and is though-provoking, both from what the professor says directly and from the art and music.
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Dave R
by Dave completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
In some ways this MOOC is more of a personal journey than the traditional learning vehicle. It certainly made me think more about philosophical issues than any other course and in a more personal and immediate way. Because of this it could be fairly challenging, and it needs to approached with an open mind. I certainly am much clearer about the existentialist world view as a result. It also helped me look at some of the philosophers I'd previously read about from a different and richer perspective. And the additional sources provided will occupy me for some considerable time.

Most of the lectures finished with an "outro", a piece of music whose lyrics prompt questions relevant to that lecture (I'm listening more closely to lyrics than I used to); the choice of music is excellent - and additional reason for taking the course.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Who could imagine existentialism could be so groovy?! Pardon the expression, but my age obliges. I read a couple of existentialist books when I was young, which is probably when most people do, but then forgot much about them, and about what brought me to them. You know, life. Then I came across this course, and it made me nostalgic for those days, regret that I somehow let them pass, but so happy to get this reminder. I watched religiously the Professor's lectures (he looks too young to be professor, too old to still think about these questions!), but only occasionally visited other activities, and they all look fun. Take a couple of lessons and see for yourself - if you're still young at heart, you'll love it!
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Angie R
Angie completed this course, spending 11 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
This was an incredible class! I learned so much on a topic that I knew very little about but has pushed me to continue to learn more about. There were so many levels to it that did not see coming- art, music, literature in addition to the philosophy that I knew would be the main topic. I loved trying to guess what the outsong would be at the end of each lecture, I only got one right, but they were all songs that I knew. I have also restocked my reading list with many novels from the class. Thanmk you so much for a wonderful ride!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This is my first online course, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I really enjoyed it. It’s demanding, but not too much, and very rewarding. It’s a very smart course, full of ideas, and some surprises. The lectures are very engaging, I liked the music, and there’s a lot going on in the gallery. I spent there about 2-3 hours a week, and don’t regret it for a minute. If you’re interested in people and politics, you’d love it.
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Gisela F
Gisela completed this course, spending 12 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
A multi faceted, fabulous romp through our choices and responsibilities in life. The course is extremely engaging because it combines a serious look at classical thinkers with a taste of pop music and art and the reality of modern life.. Not only did I reread some of my favorite authors, I gathered a whole new play list of dystopian, surreal, and fairy-tale like thought in the music industry.

HOPE guides us through personal as well as sociopolitical content, through freedom and liberty, and allows each student to choose either path in the gallery at the end of each lesson. I tri…
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Bravo! Highly informative AND entertaining entry-level philosophy course. Creative use of media, especially video. I learned a great deal shout existentialism, and myself. I've recommended HOPE to many friends. I encourage Uriel to continue down this path.

Naturally, there were a few things that didn't work as well for me. I share one of them here as feedback which may prove useful in the evolution of this type of education. Here it b is : Visual images from art history often used as background to lecture portions. I like that. The problem was that sometimes I couldn't focus on them, and wanted to, because I was into what was being said. Or to say or a different way- the visual and audio fields could have been a little less complex in places. Bottomline: a warm, rewarding, multilayered learning experience. Thank you!

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Anonymous
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Excellent course for both content and delivery. The course contains a tremendous amount of material, which draws on numerous sources over an extended time frame. I have listened to all the lectures and answered all the quiz questions, and still have much to learn from the material. The presentation also effectively integrates lectures, readings, visual arts, and music to provide the participants with a memorable experience. I found that some of the survey questions provided introspective challenges. Before the course, I would not have associated Existentialism with hope, but the lecturer and his support team made a convincing argument. I want to thank everyone involved in developing and presenting the material.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in philosophy, politics, the human experience or anyone who is searching for meaning in life. The course covers a wide range of topics from; identity, power, religion, love and of course hope. A wide range of source material is used including, paintings, music, TV shows and movies, philosophical texts and political speeches. This course is very engaging and makes you think about things you have probably never given much thought to. Uriel Abulof is a knowledgeable and engaging lecturer who presents in a very professional manner. I can't praise this course enough!!!! If you are looking for something to study choose this course, you won't regret it!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
it was the second online course that I took and at first I hesitated because the first one was a total disaster, it was boring with long videos and dull backgrounds and nothing but a lecturer who stood there and did nothing but read from a piece of paper, this course now changed my perspective and proved my hesitations wrong, it was awesome! the videos were not that long and were divided perfectly, the incorporated songs, stories, movies clips and paintings made the experience even more exciting, and the material was easy to catch on with the help of all what I mentioned above. can't wait for other courses like this one!

Tank you for making this experience possible and best of luck with works to come

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Raffi L
Raffi completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
The course is great. I enjoyed every moment of it. It was not easy - a long journey and it tried to go as far as possible in every direction. Yet, it had a back bone and a target - freedom and hope. These two are intertwined along the course sessions and made me finish it more hopeful than I started. This is a huge achievement.

I liked very much the integration of philosophy with literature, paintings, movies and pop music. All these made this course a very special experience for me.

I want to thank prof. Uriel Abulof and all those around him for this rare experience. I hope to meet you all in another course like this!!
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Shirley P
Shirley completed this course.
The course HOPE was totally thought-provoking and insightful to me. I very much appreciated the broad variety of materials used all along the course - from movie scenes, to songs and literature sequences. It was a pleasure to get to learn about politics and society through the glance of existentialism. The study of contemporary issues and the large amount of examples provided - both consensual and controversial ones - greatly contributed and strengthened my understanding of the discussed topics. Overall, I am very happy to have taken the course, and would warmly recommend it to my peers.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I thought the course was severely dumbed down. Half of each lecture was a music video we were supposed to comment on. Lots of busywork, not much information.

Note that the course just happens to spell out H.O.P.E. in English, a gimmick that doesn't work in other languages. It's indicative of the professor's attempt to channel the students in a direction that the professor has chosen, as opposed to presenting facts and encouraging the students to make authentic choices of their own.

Even so, the course was amusing enough that I kept with it to the end. Your mileage may vary.

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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
After the first lesson I wasn't sure I can commit to this course. The lectures were stunning, made me think about stuff for days, but that was a bit too much. I did the exercises and the quizzes, which are fun, but decided to give it a rest for a couple of weeks, which turned into a couple of months. but somehow i couldn't get it out of my head, so i returned - and i'm very happy i did! i finished the rest in just two weeks, almost like binge learning, and i am in debt forever for the creators of this course. i know i'll revisit it, perhaps more than once more.
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Cecilia L
Cecilia completed this course.
I found the course very engaging and the topics well explained. I want to keep taking more courses within the theme of political existentialism because it really touches upon my worries about our current global political crisis and provides me with another way of analyzing our conflicts.

Thank you for the pop culture references, which were pleasant and enjoyable. Culture is an important tool for breaking down complex concepts, such the limits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I am sharing the course with friends and family.
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Delia W
Delia completed this course.
I really enjoyed this course.It revitalised my interest in philosophy and politics.

The video lectures were of a high standard and there were plenty of them .

I enjoyed reading other people’s opinions from different

T cultures and countries to mine. My only criticism was a technical one as I am in my seventh decade I preferred to make notes on the course in a book and it was not possible to point this out to the course provider as I continually read that I was not making notes on the course.Overall an excellent course.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
The thought and effort put into the course by the instructor was amazing. His range of sources of information from art, literature, and music demonstrated his excellence in the area and willingness to work hard to fit the course with the online medium at his disposal. For improvement, he might consider pacing. Many sections offered so many theories as to be quite overwhelming. The biggest impact was that this excess of information made it difficult at times to get a clear sense of the key messages to be learned.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
A very strange beast, this course is, and I have been to many courses, mainly on coursera and edx. Professor Abulof starts with a warning, that this course is dangerous, and when i watched it, i thought, yeah, sure, bring it on, pro, but he's right - it is dangerous! I have been carrying this course with me for the last couple of months, and even now, that it's over, it's still on my mind. talk about truth in advertising... anyway, take this one only if you like thinking, or willing to try.
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  • 1

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